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US-China tensions

Why China is furious over Pelosi's Taiwan trip: 5 things to know

Beijing sees U.S. politician's visit as thumbs-up for island's independence

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, not to "play with fire" over Taiwan. (Source photos by Reuters) 

HONG KONG -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's arrival in Taiwan on Tuesday made her the highest-ranking official to visit the democratic island in a quarter century. But it has sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which considers the self-ruled island a breakaway province that will eventually be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Beijing sees the trip by Pelosi -- a longtime critic of Communist China's human rights record -- as an endorsement of Taiwan's decades-old de facto independence. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen embraced the American politician's arrival and warned that the island of 23.5 million "will not back down" in the face of China's threats to launch days of live-fire military drills.

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